Cancellation provisions in Australia's Commonwealth-managed fisheries
In its recently completed review of Commonwealth fisheries policy the Australian Government, following submissions from the commercial fishing industry, agreed to examine the implications of replacing the power in the Fisheries Management Act 1991 (FM Act) to cancel fishing concessions for non-compliance with management measures that increased financial penalties. Industry argued that the cancellation provisions undermine the security of access rights and the Australian Government had accepted that the current provisions may be an impediment to investment in Commonwealth-managed fisheries. This paper reviews these concerns in light of property rights and compliance issues and concludes that there are no compelling reasons for removing cancellation provisions from the FM Act. On the contrary, these provisions provide a powerful deterrent to non-compliance, which is unlikely to be matched by financial penalties alone. Nevertheless, it is suggested that a review of the way fisheries offences are dealt with under the Act is undertaken and that the level of current financial penalties be reviewed.